Rugby league is an essential service. Is watching a game of league going to cure coronavirus like another essential services such as healthcare? No.
But there’s something within every footy fan right now that’s missing. A hole has emerged, and rugby league needs to fill it. By looking directly at the issue, it is easy for critics to say no games should be played. However, by taking the slightest step to the left, you just might find that the positives greatly outweigh the potential negatives.
By taking a more holistic view of this issue, it is clear that playing rugby league in a safe environment during this virus is of large benefit to every stakeholder.
The passion of the fans of our great game is unrivalled. We might not have great attendance to games sometimes, but the support for footy in general throughout Sydney is widespread. Almost any local you talk to at least follows a team, and anyone who says the biggest game in Sydney is something other than rugby league is kidding themselves.
Outside of Sydney, country NSW as well as all of Queensland, Storm fans in Melbourne and Warriors fans all dearly love their clubs and await the return of games. To say watching footy again might return some meaning to life might seem like a bit of a long bow, but this period of isolation has shown how much those games, news, jokes and even the rugby league tipping banter really means to the fans.
By bringing rugby league back, we can bring back that special meaning to people’s lives and draw closer as a community to get through this virus. Following on from this, footy makes people happy. The constant news of sickness, death and pain is sure to have a detrimental psychological effect on many people who are constantly exposed to it.
Rugby league can serve as the shining light for our society; something to look forward to for our community, who are collectively doing it tough. On a weekly basis, us battlers work hard knowing full well that at the end of a tough week we can come home, relax and watch our club play. Why should it be any different now? We’re still battling, perhaps even harder than normal.
The NRL is already in some serious financial trouble and without some form of 2020 competition, it seems the game might be out of business. Obviously, getting a season of some sort – even if it’s modified – is important. As well as this, if the NRL were to be the only sports league playing in Australia, the game would open itself to a range of new viewers who need their sports fix.
Even better than that is the possible global market rugby league could attract in the absence of any other major sporting competitions being played. We saw during Round 2 that while many other codes across the globe experienced postponement due to the virus, social media users went wild over NRL games. This possible expansion in viewership, especially from the American market that currently has barely any exposure to the code, can only be seen as good for our great game.
By no means am I saying that the safety and health of our players should be put at risk just to get our game back up and running. The players’ safety should always be prioritised in every situation.
But with the NRL innovations committee already trying to find possible solutions, surely this scenario can’t be too far off. For over 100 years, those who have come before us have battled for their chance to watch the footy. In many ways, rugby league is a great analogy for the world we live in.
Supporting your team even when it feels like all hope is lost and eventually having the ball fall your way. This is what we live for, at the footy and elsewhere in life. So please, someone, bring the footy back. We need it now more than ever.